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Tinnitus reminds us the power’s inside us

Tinnitus reminds us the power’s inside us

by Joseph KisselAugust 9, 2016

Right now there’s ringing in my ears and it’s never, ever going away.

For the millions and millions who suffer from tinnitus — the perception of a constant sound when none is sonically present — that moment you realize what’s happened to your hearing and the irrevocability of something never to be removed, it can be alternately terrifying, maddening and debilitating, depressing.

Mine came on as a result of recording a song on headphones for almost a month. (I shake my head thinking about it.)

After I finished the track — which was my best sounding at the time — I noticed a constant ringing in my ears. I hoped it would go away, wake up tomorrow and it wouldn’t be there.

But instead of hearing birds chirping in the morning, I heard ringing, like an ultra-high-pitched chorus of insects that would never stop calling out in the night.

I was desperate for a cure — too much salt in the diet? still exposing yourself to loud sounds, musician? — but there really isn’t one once the damage is done.

Boy, was I angry at myself. I didn’t normally create entire tracks on headphones, usually just during the end mixing process, which is when the sound levels of the individual parts of the song are made appropriate relative to one another.

But a whole month of listening to this repeatedly and obviously at too high of a volume left a permanent mark. The same things can happen at concerts, around performance cars, guns and anything where a sudden, way-too-loud sound can damage your hearing forever.

But what if that could be turned to an advantage?

I’m a believer in the power of hypnotherapy, which basically states that positive, affirmative commands — like reducing cravings or increasing confidence or banishing nightmares — can be more readily absorbed into the unconscious if the mind is comfortable and at rest.

So I lay down in my dark, quiet room and begin to regulate my breathing with deep, deliberate breathing. Counting down from 100 pausing along the way to bring up positive affirmations.

Despite the predicament I found myself in, strength, intelligence, courage, empathy these were all traits that were a part of me. I hope. No, I know.

“The ringing” as I call it, I began to link that with these traits and more: energy, industry, positivity. Everything good I could find within myself, I pulled it forth and linked it to that terrible, constantly ringing droning forever sound that was within me, the one thing I can never leave.

I did that night after night before falling asleep, and soon the ringing — honestly — didn’t bother me as much. Now when I notice it, I smile and think about something else.

And really, management of one’s response to an affliction is the only real prescription.

Like anything in life, how we respond to a situation is often the only choice we have once the damage is done, the cards are dealt and the milk hits the fan.

Life is about loss.

But our wills are stronger.

A little ringing won’t stop me.

It just reminds me how great life can be.

About The Author
Joseph Kissel
Joseph Kissel is a journalist, editor and photographer. He is also the Vice President of the New York Coalition for Open Government, a non-partisan, non-profit group that advocates for transparency and the public's right to freedom of information.